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Reading Guide for The War Nurse by Tracey Enerson Wood

The War Nurse

A Novel

by Tracey Enerson Wood

The War Nurse by Tracey Enerson Wood X
The War Nurse by Tracey Enerson Wood
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How much did you know about nursing (particularly World War I–era nursing) before reading this book? What was the most surprising thing you learned?
  2. If you were told that your entire workplace was uprooting to support a war effort, what would your first reaction be? Did Julia have a real choice when it came to shipping out?
  3. Both Julia and the doctors she assists can be territorial about their authority. How does this affect their working dynamics? Are there any consequences for the patients the team treats?
  4. Julia and Dr. Murphy discuss the ethical and procedural challenges of authorizing nurses to perform lifesaving procedures on their own. Compare the benefits and drawbacks of strictly following protocol to the consequences of a nurse performing whatever procedures she feels are best.
  5. Dr. Murphy compares the doctor's role to that of a car mechanic and gives the majority of the healing credit to nurses. What do you think is a nurse's most important role? How would you rank their importance next to doctors?
  6. Julia hesitates in her relationship with Fred, not wanting to feed the rumor mill. How does outside opinion influence relationships? Compare the rumor mill of Base Hospital 21 to today's social media. How do their relative positions affect their willingness to "let the chips fall where they may" when they begin seeing each other more seriously?
  7. What did you think of Julia's choice to keep her skin condition a secret? Do you think she was right to fear dismissal? What were the consequences of her decision?
  8. How does the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak compare to the 2020 novel coronavirus? Are there lessons that can be learned from the way Julia and her nurses battle their pandemic?
  9. Did Julia do the right thing by violating protocol to operate on Private Dempsey? What would you have done in her place?
  10. What did you think of the final scene of the book? Can you think of a moment you wanted to bottle up and keep forever? What do you think is next for Julia and Fred?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Sourcebooks Landmark. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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